26. Gulliver’s Travels

Oops! So I definitely haven’t finished this one. Am I ashamed? Well not really, there are hundreds of books I’d like to get through and try as I might I just can’t seem to make this one stick and enjoy it. I have a bad habit of reading out of compulsion rather than enjoyment so here’s to breaking a habit! Lemuel Gulliver, you’ve been… okay… but I’ve read The Colour of Magic  and started the Vagina Monologues in the mean time so I guess. It’s time to say goodbye.

Guliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

Perhaps when I started this Reading Challenge I should’ve added in a get out of jail free clause, something along the lines of “If after 100 pages you still CANNOT stand this, put it down, find something fun.” Well, 160 pages in, and I’m pretty sure I could happily read on but I wouldn’t enjoy myself and it would take valuable time out of the year that could be better suited to enjoying something else (yes this is a difficult thing for me, the last time I put down a book I didn’t enjoy was well over 12 months ago). Nobody is expected to like everything they read? Right? Right?!?! Okay. Yeah rationally, we’ve had trouble with Jules Verne this year, and we had trouble with James Joyce, but this time, up with this we will not put. I am going to learn how to do this. I am steeling myself, going against everything I have been taught at university.

Gulliver’s Travels is an adventure novel about Lemuel Gulliver and his seafaring adventures (which are fortunately not overly worked this part of the journey is only ever a quick stone throw into the real adventure). Firstly he manages to find himself on an island where the inhabitants are very small, and they think he’s a monster of such and it so happens he easily learns language to communicate with them (and convinces them of otherwise).

He learns their customs and politics and then he has a falling out with the King so runs away to have to come back and leave. The second island, is much the same as the first, except this time, you guessed it, everyone is really big and he is really small. And much in the same formulaic way Gulliver learns the language, politics and gets in good with the royal family. Only this time he isn’t run out of town but snatched by a bird and then rescued by his own people who are bewildered at why he is raving like a mad man thinking he is tiny and they are large.

Then Gulliver is off again! And this time… he is picked up by an island that floats around the sky.

It was shortly after this point in the novel I stopped reading. I’ve read more challenging material and certainly more entertaining material. I really wanted to make some crack about the last island being something Atlantean, but, surprise surprise a quick google tells me that I have missed out on the wondrous island of the talking horses. Which is far better than any joke I could’ve cracked.

If I’ve put you off, I can understand why but this is still a novel of its time and you should at least have a running jump at it even if you decide its not for you. Me personally, I prefer H.G. Wells. But I guess, had I not left the book at home when I went to Spain I may have not given up on it.


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